Baron-Forness Library
200 Tartan Drive
Edinboro, PA 16444
(814) 732-2273

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User Education


User Education
Contact: Dr. Monty L. McAdoo, User Education Librarian (Room 231), 814-732-1070

The library faculty offers a variety of instructional opportunities for classes, groups, and individuals wanting to learn how to access and use the library's resources and services more effectively. This page addresses some of the more commonly asked questions about user education. Our Researcher's Toolkit pages offer additional insights and tips for researchers and library users.  Faculty members wishing to learn more about library resources and services and/or how to improve assignments related to the library should contact Dr. McAdoo as noted above.

What are the goals of library instruction?
Instruction by the faculty of the Baron-Forness Library is primarily aimed at addressing students’ specific research needs for specific assignments, with an emphasis on identifying, accessing, and using appropriate information resources and services.  With that in mind, the goals of the library’s instruction program are threefold:

1) To heighten awareness of assignment-appropriate library information resources and services;
2) To familiarize students with the means of accessing and retrieving books and/or periodicals;
3) To acquaint students with basic search principles and strategies for conducting effective information searches using library information resources and services.

What learning outcomes can I expect?
Library instruction is typically customized to meet the specific needs of a class or group.  As a result, because assignments and class needs vary, instruction varies as well.  However, there are several key concepts and principles which are incorporated into every library instruction session. To that end, students in library instruction sessions will become aware of how to:

1) Identify key terms and concepts that describe the information need;
2) Identify at least one relevant index or resource for finding information;
3) Understand how subject searching works as a means of focusing one’s search;
4) For books and articles
          a. Locate books in the library using Library of Congress classification numbers
b. Determine availability of a periodical in print and/or electronic format
5) Determine availability of articles in printed or electronic format;
6) Understand the use of interlibrary loan.

What is 'information literacy?'
The goals and objectives outlined above are based on the notion of "information literacy" (IL).  There are many definitions of such.  Baron-Forness Library follows the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education established by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). Because IL is a process, the library's instruction program should be seen as but one step and not the final step in teaching students how to use information effectively and efficiently.

Please visit the ACRL's IL site for more information. In summary, the standards stipulate that an information literate individual is able to:

1. Determine the extent of information needed;
2. Access the needed information effectively and efficiently;
3. Evaluate information and its sources critically;
4. Incorporate selected information into one’s knowledge base;
5. Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose;
6. Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally.

What is the format of instruction?
The format of instruction varies depending on needs and interest.  However, because of time constraints, lecture is typically the primary mode of presentation for single-class instruction. 

What's involved with scheduling instruction?
There are several simple steps you need to complete to schedule instruction for your group:

1) Requests must be received at least one week prior to the actual time instruction is desired.
2) Instruction will only be scheduled for classes involving research or a research-related assignment.
3) You must submit a copy of your assignment in order to give the librarian assigned to work with your class a chance to review it, prepare lecture notes, and so on. 
4) To assist us in improving our instruction program, you or the librarian assigned to your class must conduct a brief pre-assessment.  Within a week after instruction has been provided, you or the librarian assigned to your class must conduct a brief post-assessment.
5) You must attend the instruction session with your group.

How do I schedule instruction?
Prof. Jack Widner (x2175) coordinates all instruction requests. Requests are processed in the order they are received and are subject to librarian availability.  All requests must be made at least one week in advance.

What if I don’t have a specific assignment for my students?
Instruction is only scheduled when a research assignment has been made. This provides a meaningful context for the presentation. For suggestions on creating better library assignments, please call x1070.

What instruction is available?
Classes are developed around the specific needs of students and/or the assignments they receive.  As such, class content will vary from class to class. However, because so much of research is now computer-dependent, 10-15 minutes of every class must necessarily deal with various computing issues (e.g. printing, logging-in/-out). The following table provides a rough overview of the types of instruction we typically provide and should be used as a starting point for coordinating the instruction to be provided. Times and content descriptions should be considered minimums.




Computer Basics

~10 mins.

Various computing issues affecting research typically encountered by students such as print quota, saving/retrieving files to/from the S:/ drive, and logging-in/-out are incorporated into every session.


~15 mins.

Discussion of PILOT (i.e. the library's catalog) revolves around a simple search for books and other items owned by the library followed by a brief discussion of availability, call numbers, and item locations.


~25 mins.

Typically, the database most suited to the assignment is demonstrated. Keyword versus subject searching, full text options and availability, and some of the more advanced search options form the basis for discussion.


~20 mins.

What a search engine is and how it operates are the focus of this presentation. Comparisons of various search engines, advanced searching, and results pages are also discussed. A brief discussion of Web site evaluation can also be incorporated.
~20 mins.
Learn the basics of creating a bibliographic database via the importation of citation information and the manual creation of records.  The use of the Write-n-Cite plug-in for creating in-text citations and references pages will also be discussed.


~15 mins.

A “tour” of the microforms room typically consists of an overview of why we have items on microform, how the items are organized, and how they can be accessed using the machines available. PLEASE NOTE: Classes of more than 10-15 students are problematic because of the limited amount of space and machines available.

How many workstations are in the lab?

The library’s instruction lab has 28 student workstations. While additional seating is available, it is recommended that you call x1070 if your class has more than 28 students to see if your class could/should be split to better accommodate your students' needs.

How many classes can I schedule?
To insure everyone has an opportunity to use the lab, it cannot be reserved more than three times per semester for any one section of a class.

Can I schedule the library lab for non-research types of classes?
No. Because of the sheer volume or requests that we receive from faculty and the volume of usage by students, we can no longer accept reservations for use of the lab for non-library/non-research related activities.

Do I need to attend with my students?
Yes. Many students (and sometimes even the librarians) have questions about the assignment. Having you present insures such questions get answered satisfactorily and that you get the most accurate information about current library resources and services.

How late in the term can I schedule a class?
To help ensure students have enough time to implement the knowledge they've acquired through library instruction, no instruction will be scheduled during the last three weeks of a semester.

Is there someone to help me develop a good library assignment?
Yes. Librarians are in a unique position of being faculty and yet working directly with students as they complete their work. As such, we have unique insight into how assignments can be constructed to insure they're "doable" and achieve the objective(s) you hope to achieve. Dr. Monty McAdoo at 814-732-1070 can assist you with ideas and suggestions of how to improve the effectiveness of your assignment.

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